It's been said that Heaven's greatest attribute is Mercy. If that is so, then how do we, mere mortals on Earth, reciprocate Heaven's boundless munificence? Through Compassion.
Surely, many of us have been so blessed. But for some, compassion remains an elusive, incomprehensible, almost alien concept. Even worse, at times, those who are in a position to render compassion are the very ones who commit and perpetuate acts of cruelty.
Take for example, the Committee on Animal Welfare (CAW), the government body charged with overseeing all animal welfare issues in the Philippines. CAW's specific responsibility is the superintendence of that country's Animal Welfare Act of 1998 (RA 8485) whose provisions the different government bodies, particularly the Bureau of Animal Industry-Animal Welfare Division, are supposed to implement properly. CAW defines what cruelty is while RA 8485 is the benchmark.
On June 28, 2010, the Department of Agriculture signed off on a revised, presumably improved, version of the old Administrative Order 21 (AO21). This revision addressed the unsavory but important issue of euthanasia, applicable to all animals, strays or pets, which are unfortunate enough to be on a death list. Largely the brainchild of CAW, this revised guide to euthanasia states CAW'S basic policy on the subject (Section 1):
" It is the policy of the state to protect and promote the welfare of animals in the Philippines and to monitor the strict implementation and observance of R.A. No. 8485 as well as pertinent provisions of R.A. No. 9482 to ensure that only the acceptable and most humane manner of killing animals are observed under given circumstances. This Revised Rules and Regulations on the euthanasia of animals takes into consideration the freedom of animals from physical discomfort and pain and their freedom from fear and distress during the conduct of euthanasia
This grab for the highest ideals could warm even the coldest heart, if only it were true. In reality, specific provisions in this new guide make it more akin to a manual for torture and cruelty than a guide to euthanasia.
For example, Section 6.3 mandates shooting by firearm as an acceptable form of euthanasia applicable to dogs, cats, horses, pigs, lizards, snakes, ruminants, non-human primates, and marine mammals. It was provided that the designated shooter, be it a member of the police force, the armed forces or any branch of law enforcement, must be under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. How this supervision will have a mitigating effect on the suffering of an animal at death's door---the every essence of euthanasia--- is questionable. Further, Section 7 lists decapitation as acceptable form of euthanasia in cases involving rabbits. Birds, on the other hand, have no reason to sing. Cervical dislocation was proposed for their humane death.
But the most egregious example of this order's crossed purposes, championing compassion while authorizing cruel execution methods, can be found in Section 6.2a where asphyxiation via carbon monoxide from motor vehicle engines is an accepted form of euthanasia. This provision further illuminates CAW's almost hallucinogenic concept of a merciful death.
Tambucho Gassing entails connecting the exhaust pipe ( Tambucho ) of a motor vehicle to a small, box-like enclosure where the unfortunate animals have been crammed in darkness. Running the usually badly-tuned engine, the blackened toxic fumes slowly choke them to death. What follows is the frantic clawing of the animal, its plaintive cries for help, its desperate search for a safe corner. The animal rolls and twitches. At some point, the body no longer responds to the animal's natural instincts but some level of consciousness lingers on. This process can take as long as fifteen minutes.
In most civilized societies, Tambucho Gassing would constitute a perverted, hideous act of animal cruelty worthy of criminal prosecution. But not in the Philippines--- not as long as CAW has its way.
This begs the question, who constitutes the Committee on Animal Welfare? They are:
1. Philippine Veterinary Medical Association
2. Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines (VPAP)
3. Philippine Animal Hospital Association (PA HA)
4. Philippine College of Canine Practitioners (PCCP)
5. Philippine Society of Animal Science (PSAS)
6. Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
7. Department of Education (DepEd)
8. Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of
9. Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
10. National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS)
11. Philippine Society of Swine Practitioners (PSSP)
12. Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)
13. Philippine Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA)
Dr. Enrique T. Carlos is CAW Chairman. firstname.lastname@example.org
It is very important to note that only two of CAW's constituents voted against Tambucho Gassing --- PAWS with the PSPCA following suit. It is equally important to stress that the sitting representatives of these organizations approved of Tambucho Gassing, not their rank and file members. We should seriously doubt that all Filipino veterinarians approve of Tambucho Gassing.
It has been put forward by some members of CAW that it costs approximately P200 to euthanize a healthy, medium to large sized dog using the preferred drug, Euthal. It's sodium pentobarbital for the chemistry wonks among you. Two hundred Philippine pesos roughly equates to $4 U.S. That's too high a price by CAW's standard.
However, less Euthal is required when the condemned animal measures from small to medium as most Philippine dogs are, and the cost of Euthal goes even lower when purchased in bulk by veterinarians and city pounds.
Admittedly, money is a concern. Generating revenue, cutting cost, balancing the books, all these are fodder for the hacks at the accounting department. But why should it factor into the definition of a humane death? Cost should never be the nugget that tips the scale, redefining cruelty as compassion.
Tambucho Gassing, even if it were free of cost, is still unacceptable as a form of euthanasia. And once CAW favored expediency over compassion, it ceased to be an animal welfare organization.
(1) We ask the Secretary of Agriculture, Processo J. Alcala, to recognize that the revision of AO21 is mired in contradiction, that it legitimizes Tambucho Gassing when it is undoubtedly a form of abject animal cruelty. We ask the Secretary to rescind the revised AO21 and send it back to CAW.
(2) We ask the members of CAW to rewrite its guidelines and to reject Tambucho Gassing as a form of euthanasia. We ask CAW to accept that euthanasia defined by cost is unacceptable. We ask CAW to be most vigilant about nonconformity to its mission.
This petition will be sent to the members of CAW and to Secretary Proceso Alcala of the Department of Agriculture ( mailto:.email@example.com ). Let us start with a thousand signatures and let it grow from there. If you agree with the spirit and purpose of this petition, please comment and sign it. And then tell the world about the travesty that is AO21.
These videos will upset you, but they tell the truth. Viewer discretion is advised.
:August 5, 2010
Today, I sent the petition with 1600 signatures to Agricultural Secretary Proceso Alcala's office for his perusal. I implored him to read the comments and to take them to heart. I stated that Tambucho Gassing has gone from a local issue to a global one, and we the signatories respectfully request that he rescind the adminstrative order. We hope that the secretary will have the courtesy to send a response. KEEP SIGNING THE PETITION PLEASE.August 10, 2010
Two local journalists have written editorials against Tambucho Gassing in their respective newspapers. I have added links to their sites above under the Links heading. They are Neal Cruz of the Inquirer and Kathy Moran of Philstar. It is Ms. Moran's third article against Tambucho Gassing.August 17, 2010
I am pleased to report that there has been some communication between the office of Agri Sec. Alcala and the representatives of PAWS, AKF, and CARA. A meeting will be scheduled sometime in September, but there is a good possibility that AO21, now known as AO13, will be sent back to CAW for review and reconsideration before then. Please continue to sign the petition and spread the word. This battle isn't over yet.August 21, 2010
GREAT NEWS! The official word has come out that Sec. Alcala has sent AO21 ( now known as AO13) back to the Committee of Animal Welfare for review. This happened on August 16th. The next scheduled CAW meeting is on August 24th, and animal rights proponents will be attending. Thank you to all the signatories. This is your partial victory. It still isn't over yet until CAW actually eliminates Tambucho Gassing from the guidelines. But CAW knows the outrage of the people, and there have been several several municipalities who have come out with a statement that they will not allow Tambucho Gassing to be practiced in their area.August 29, 2010
: It is with great pleasure that I amend this petition with the news that the Committee on Animal Welfare voted 5-4 to eliminate Tambucho Gassing from Admistrative Order 13 ( formerly AO21). This is a great victory for all those who opposed Tambucho Gassing as a form of euthanasia. I thank all of those who signed this petition. Your signature had force and power. Together with local animal welfare organizations in the Philippines, we made an effort and succeeded. Special thanks to the Anna Cabrera of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, Luis Buenaflor of the Animal Kingdom Foundation, and Nancy Cu-enjieng of Care and Responsibility for Animals. Their personal involvement against Tambucho Gassing was priceless and decisive. Tambucho Gassing has been defeated!